The Codex Leicester: Exhibition Preview

What is the Codex?

Leonardo recorded his thoughts and ideas on sheets of paper, filling more than 10,000 sheets with drawings and observations in his lifetime. He wrote backwards, from right to left, and his letters are reversed, because he was left-handed and writing this way kept his sleeve out of the wet ink.

The word “codex” means a bound manuscript, created by folding a stack of pages down the middle and sewing a binding along the fold. It was the earliest form of a book. Written around 1508-1510, the Codex Leicester (pronounced “Lester”) is comprised of 18 double-page, double-sided sheets, making 72 pages in total. He worked on one individual sheet at a time, filling its four pages in a backwards sequence, so that the last page he filled, confusingly, would be the first a reader would encounter if the Codex was read in the usual manner.

After his death in 1519, others organized his sheets and bound them together. This is how the Codex Leicester came into being. It has been restored to its unbound state and proper order, the way Leonardo originally created it.


Featured Works

Leonardo da Vinci

Codex Leicester
Courtesy Bill Gates / ©bgC3

Bill Viola

The Raft, 2004, Color High-Definition video projection on wall 156 x 88 in (396.2 x 223 cm) in darkened space; 5.1ch surround sound, Room dimensions: 29 ft 6 in x 23 ft x 13 ft (9 x 7 x 4 m), 10:33 minutes

The Institute For Figuring’s Crochet Coral Reef project

The finished Minneapolis Satellite Reef will be on view August 23–September 30 at the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization.